FTC's new office to examine security of 'smart' devices

FTC's new office to examine security of 'smart' devices
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is launching a new office to investigate the digital security of a broad range of technologies.

The Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTRI) will examine the privacy and security measures of rapidly expanding technologies like electronic payments, Internet-connected cars and Internet-connected homes, according to a Monday blog post.

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The OTRI will supplant the FTC’s Mobile Technology Unit, which examined the consumer protection mechanisms of mobile apps and smartphones.

The OTRI has a similar goal, “but will take on an even broader mandate and be staffed with additional technologists,” Consumer Protection Bureau Director Jessica Rich said in the post.

Chief Technologist Ashkan Soltani elaborated on the new positions being created to staff the OTRI, which include a fellowship and intern program, in addition to a research coordinator.

“We believe OTRI will be an instrumental source for research and information on technology’s impact on consumers,” Soltani wrote.

The FTC has become the de facto digital security regulator for the government in recent years.

The commission has the authority to take action against companies for “unfair or deceptive” business practices.

It’s wielded this power to file lawsuits or pursue settlements against several companies that experienced data breaches, alleging that they did not live up to data security promises.

The agency has also settled with or sued major tech companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google, alleging poor consumer privacy practices.